Some right wing ideologues may be consistent. Workers and the poor should be subject to market forces. What about the rich? Should they also be subjected to the ravages of the market? Sure, says the right wing ideologue. They need market discipline too. OK. But then why don't I hear right wingers say that?
Let's take a recent union related dispute. Apparently Boeing was thinking about building another plant in Washington, but as a condition they wanted the union to agree to not strike for 10 years. The union wouldn't agree, so Boeing decided to move the plant to South Carolina. According to the National Labor Relations Board this is a violation of the Wagner Act. They say you can't make a move like that in an effort to bust a union.
Right wing ideologue Megan McArdle thinks this is crazy. It can't possibly be against the law to move to a location that has better business conditions. Why shouldn't we have freedom? And by the way, right to work laws are great.
I can see the merit to Megan's claim, but here's a question. Government intervention has created the corporate entity. This limited liability entity creates conditions where the employer has tremendous bargaining power against an individual laborer due to the employer's enormous concentration of wealth. I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me (read opening paragraphs of the Wagner Act here) that to combat that imbalance the government has likewise intervened to bias employer/employee relations in a way that makes it easier for laborers to bargain for wages as a group. That way the employer can't play one employee against another in a race to the bottom to see who will sacrifice the most for the ownership class. So maybe there is some restriction of movement for a company like Boeing for that reason. Megan doesn't approve of government intervention that makes it easier for employees to bargain as a group. Does she disapprove of the government intervention that permits the owners to have a disproportionately strong hand in wage negotiations?
Because it seems odd to deprive the poor of intervention that allows them a stronger hand while retaining intervention that provides wealth with a stronger hand. Megan might tell us that she disapproves of government sanctioning and protection of the corporate entity. Good. But we almost never see that from her do we. What we see is a constant stream of union bashing. The effect is to produce legislation that removes government intervention that strengthens the hand of unions (like right to work laws) and nobody is even talking about legislation that would end the corporate entity. The effect serves the interests of wealth and ownership.
Or let's take Mark Perry at Carpe Diem. Union pay is a cancer on the big three. See, the big three are not competitive because they pay way too much for labor, unlike the non-union Japanese automakers. Megan agrees. High union labor costs make Detroit uncompetitive. OK.
But what about CEO pay. As Ha-Joon Chang shows in "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" American CEO's have inflated salaries as compared to CEO's in the rest of the world, and there's no reason to think they provide better performance. In fact the indications are that their performance is quite a bit worse. I don't think Mark Perry has ever commented on that. But if you ask him he'll say sure, let the market punish companies that over pay for their CEO's. But why doesn't he criticize over payed executives as well as over payed laborers? It's odd that he only notices overpayment when it applies to the poor. He doesn't notice it when it applies to the rich.
What about government spending? Medicare and Social Security are out of control, say the right wing ideologues. Fair enough. What about war? Talk about waste, it's not doing anything. We're spending hundreds of billions and at the end of the day this probably makes us less safe. There are some pretty good studies that show this. And that's leaving aside the tremendous damage it does to the victims of our wars. At least Medicare provides services to people that need them. War on terrorism (particularly Islamic terrorism) insulates you from a threat that is less than the threat posed by your own bathtub. You could drown in your tub after all. Why are we doing this?
Oh sure, that's bad too says the right wing ideologue. We should cut that as well. Why don't I see posts at Carpe Diem explaining how our comically expensive and pointless war machine/surveillance state contributes to our deficits?
Immigration is another one. One of the most important factors determining your salary if you are American is the fact that our government limits immigration. A huge market intervention that keeps right wingers rich. Some will concede the point and say yeah, we should have open borders. They don't really like this market intervention. Fine. Do they start blog posts criticizing this market intervention? No. They whisper it in a comment stream where it won't be read.
The right is all for free markets. They say it loudly. As it applies to the poor. When it applies to the rich they'll still say it. But quietly.